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LightHouse Gala

Photos: LightHouse’s first-ever ‘Celebration of Blind Ambition’ in San Francisco

Photos: LightHouse’s first-ever ‘Celebration of Blind Ambition’ in San Francisco

Last Thursday, the LightHouse gathered hundreds of friends, supporters and community members at the Julia Morgan Ballroom in downtown San Francisco for the LightHouse Gala: A Celebration of Blind Ambition. At the gala, which was LightHouse’s largest-ever, we honored blind pioneers, role models and citizens for their audacity and ambition. It was a celebration, a fundraiser and an invitation for our community to partner and become more deeply engaged with the work of the LightHouse.

With over 300 people in attendance, it was an evening of community and camaraderie. Emcee Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind person to summit Mount Everest, set the tone for our daring evening. LightHouse student Jorge Ellington and his band started the evening right with live Latin Jazz. We honored seven blind leaders throughout the night, and capped off with presentations from our agency’s Holman Prize for Blind Ambition.

We were proud to present our new LightHouse Awards: to acknowledge longtime leaders from the field of blindness, who have had a great impact on the community. This award honored trailblazers in education, technology and policy. LightHouse Newel Perry Award was presented to Cathy Skivers by Bryan Bashin. The LightHouse Dr. Isabelle Grant Award was presented to George Kerscher for his work to made electronic books accessible. Erin Lauridsen, Director of Access Technology presented the award to Dr. Kerscher. The LightHouse Chris Buckley Award honored Scott LaBarre and Maryanne Diamond for their work advocating for the Marrakesh Treaty to make books accessible to the global blind community without exception. Benentech’s Jim Fruchterman presented the award.

Ceremonial medals were given to the 2017 Holman Prizewinners, who were honored for the completion of their year-long projects which furthered the cause of blindness across six continents in the fields of adventure sports, entrepreneurship and cultural exchange. Holman prizewinner Penny Melville-Brown recounted her perilous, near death car accident and subsequently meeting and marrying the love of her life. Ojok Simon spoke of teaching over 45 blind people the art of beekeeping this year, and brought honey from Uganda to share with all. Ahmet Ustunel imparted his kayaking adventures in Turkey, and the technology he crafted to aid blind kayakers navigate independently.

Julie Cabrera, an Enchanted Hills camper who grew up to be a counselor helped us raise funds to rebuild the Wing Creek Chapel and accessible nature trail at Enchanted Hills, which were destroyed in last year’s Wine Country wildfires. The evening supported the life-changing programs of the LightHouse with a portion supporting to Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind. The event raised over $180,000. Thank you to our sponsors.


  • Jennifer and Ken Bunt


  • Walt Disney Company Employee Matching Gift Program
  • Microsoft


  • Drew Kebbel
  • Sharon and Richard Sacks


  • Apple
  • Facebook
  • Herbst Foundation
  • Merchant’s Exchange (Julia Morgan Ballroom)
  • Patson & Co
  • Swinerton
  • U.S. Bank


  • Jennison Asuncion
  • Lisa Carvalho and David Mager
  • Gena Harper
  • Jerry Kuns
  • Josh Miele, Liz Ruhland and Fred Ruhland
  • Fred and Kristine Silva


  • One Market Restaurant, Michael and Leslye Dellar
  • Google/ Laura Allen
  • HP
  • Humanware
  • Maze & Associates
  • Mutual of America
  • U.S. Bank


  • Barbara Lassen
  • Joan Dove
  • Chris Downey and Rosa Downey
  • Eric and Jacalyn Mah
  • Michael Nuz
  • Alice Wingwall and Donlyn Lyndon
  • Stanley Yarnell and Victor Rowley


  • Bauke Family Foundation
  • Disability Rights Advocates
  • Fitness SF
  • Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP
  • Turner Construction
LightHouse Gala 2018: A Celebration of Blind Ambition

LightHouse Gala 2018: A Celebration of Blind Ambition

Text against a starry black background. At right, a blue figure with a cane silhouetted against the sky. In the top right, a white compass rose.

A Celebration of Blind Ambition

On November 29, 2018, we hosted the first-ever LightHouse Gala at the Julia Morgan Ballroom in San Francisco.

The full gala tickets included access to a pre-dinner cocktail hour, our Gala dinner and awards, and live auction with fabulous packages.

We can’t wait to have you again in 2020.



Calendar Icon Location Icon Clock Icon Bowtie Icon

November 29, 2018

Julia Morgan Ballroom

   6 p.m. – 10 p.m.

   Cocktail Attire

For 116 years, LightHouse has served California and supported people with blindness or low vision to live full lives. We are the place where blind people come to learn skills and to gain confidence and independence. At the LightHouse people connect with resources, peers and mentors. Every day we prove that with access to information and training, blind people can live as confident and effective employees, students, and community members.

In addition to awards for outstanding members of our community, innovative organizations and our valued sponsors, the evening also featured the stories of our first three winners of the Holman Prize for Blind Ambition, who will have just completed their year-long Holman adventures.

We look forward to sharing an exceptional night together in celebration again in 2020. The Gala benefits LightHouse for the Blind’s transformational programs including Vision Rehabilitation, Community Services, Employment, Technology, and Accessible Design, as well as the annual Holman Prize for Blind Ambition and Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind in Napa.



Microsoft Logo

Facebook Logo Patson Companies Logo US Bank Logo Merchants Exchange, Julia Morgan Ballroom Logo
Mutual of America Logo Maze and Associates Logo One Market Restaurant Logo
Google Logo HP Logo Humanware Logo
Turner Construction Logo Disability Rights Advocates Logo Rosen Bien, Galvan & Grundfeld LLP Logo



Bauke Family Foundation

Jennifer and Ken Bunt

Jennison Asuncion

Jerry Kuns

Josh Miele, Liz Ruhland and Fred Ruhland

Lisa Carvalho and David Mager

Richard and Sharon Sacks

Michael Nunez



Jennison Asuncion

Bryan Bashin

Jennifer Bunt

Michael Dellar

Gena Harper

Sharon Sacks